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Mycophenolic acid is a prescription medication commonly given to organ transplant patients before, during, and after their procedures. When it is taken in combination with one or two other drugs, mycophenolic acid helps to ensure the new organ is not rejected by the immune system. The drug suppresses the activity of T- and B-cell lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that would otherwise attack a foreign organ in the body. Patients are instructed to follow their dosing schedules exactly and attend health checkups during treatment to ensure positive results.
In addition to taking mycophenolic acid, transplant patients are usually given another immunosuppressant called cyclosporine and an anti-inflammatory steroid such as prednisone. The drug's effects are enhanced by the other two medications, resulting in the best possible chances of the body accepting the new organ. Mycophenolic acid works by blocking the enzymes the body needs to synthesize new lymphocytes. With the white blood cell count lowered, a foreign organ faces less resistance from the immune system. The drug is most commonly used in preparation for kidney transplants, but it is also prescribed to patients undergoing, liver, lung, and heart transplant procedures.
Doctors are very careful when prescribing mycophenolic acid to make sure the proper dosing amount is established prior to surgery. A patient's age, weight, and overall health are taken into consideration. Most adults are instructed to take 720 milligrams of the drug twice daily, while children are given considerably smaller doses. Mycophenolic acid is supplied in extended release tablets that are designed to be taken on an empty stomach to avoid upsetting the stomach.
It is possible to experience side effects when taking mycophenolic acid, especially during the first few days of treatment. A person may have stomach cramps, diarrhea, and nausea shortly after taking a dose. The drug may cause headaches, muscle pains, fatigue, and insomnia as well. Rarely, a patient can experience more severe symptoms such as vision disturbances, cognition problems, sharp chest pains, and breathing difficulties.
Organ transplant patients who take mycophenolic acid are at an increased risk of acquiring infections and experiencing severe bleeding from physical injuries. With the immune system suppressed, even the weakest of viruses and bacteria have the opportunity to cause major health problems. Patients are encouraged to avoid contact with sick people and rest indoors as much as possible to reduce health risks. Regular blood tests and physical exams are important during the course of treatment to make sure major complications do not arise.